After a quiet few months for military visitors to the Thames the Royal Navy has provided an impressive visitor to fill the void in the shape of HMS Defender.
She arrived in the early hours of Wednesday 22nd April and was assisted on to her moorings at Greenwich by locally based Svitzer tugs Brunel and Mercia.
HMS Defender is the 5th ship in the Daring-class of Type 45 air-defence destroyers for the Royal Navy and was commissioned in 2013 – this is her first visit to London. She will be moored on the Thames at the Greenwich ship tier until 28th April and will be open to members of the public who have pre-booked tickets for visits on Saturday and Sunday.
HMS Defender has undertaken two operational deployments, the first as a ‘Fleet Ready Escort’ in UK waters and once to the Middle East and since then she has been going through a period of maintenance and crew training. She is in London as part of the events to mark the centenary of Gallipoli campaign.
The Daring-class are the most modern surface vessels currently in service with the Royal Navy and are equipped with a variety of missile and gun weapon systems designed to defeat air and surface threats – the main one being the Sea Viper air defence system.
The ships also have a large landing pad and hanger that is capable of carrying Lynx, Wildcat or Merlin helicopters – as she passed North Woolwich inbound to Greenwich in the early morning darkness there was a Lynx on her helideck.
Update – on Saturday 25th April I was able to go on board HMS Defender to have a look around.
Update: HMS Defender has now left London following it’s port visit.
More pictures can be seen here.